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Best Overall: Five Ten Guide Tennie Approach Shoe at Amazon
"It even grips better when it gets wet."
Best Value: Merrell Alverstone Hiking Shoes at Amazon
"Built to provide all-day comfort and full-foot protection."
Best for Wide Feet: Altra Lone Peak 4 Running Shoe at Amazon
"Its foot-shaped toe box is much wider than most trail runners or light hikers."
Best for Support: Oboz Arete Mid Hiking Shoes at Amazon
"For those who plan on hauling lots of weight into the backcountry."
Best Quicklace System: Salomon Amphib Bold Water Shoes at Amazon
"The heel collapses so you can wear them like a slip-on."
Best for Women: Danner Trail 2650 Hiking Shoes at Amazon
"Ready to handle a variety of terrain, whether you’re day-hiking or thru-hiking."
Best Waterpoof: Columbia Vitesse OutDry Hiking Shoes at Amazon
"Blocks wetness without sacrificing weight or breathability."
Best for Men: Vasque Breeze III Low GTX Hiking Boots at Amazon
"Ideal for fast-moving hikers on either one-day or a multi-day excursion."
Best for Endurance Racing: The North Face Ultra Endurance XF at The North Face
"Built to handle the most extreme of trail conditions."
Best for Comfort: Hoka One One Tor Ultra Low WP JP at Hoka One One
"Boasts max cushioning underfoot and a 4 mm heel-to-toe drop."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Five Ten Guide Tennie Approach Shoe
Delivering the best grip out there, this Five Ten shoe uses the brand's stealth rubber technology, a compound born out of the brand’s core focus on rock-climbing shoes. It even grips better when it gets wet. This Spiderman-like dexterity makes quick work of wet rocks and wood, while also fending off sharp rocks and roots, with the rubber compound wrapping around the front and over the heel to let you smear a grip on a flat surface without damaging your toes. In many other ways, this hiking shoe is traditional, with weather-resistant, split-suede uppers and a traditional lace closure that extends far down to help dial the optimal fit. The term “approach shoe” is also worth noting: Five Ten was one of the first to develop that genre, which refers to shoes that climbers wear to “approach” a crag. There may be other lighter and breathable options, but when it comes to hiking or backpacking, shoes with traction are key.
Best Value: Merrell Alverstone Hiking Shoes
The Merrell Alverstone squeezes in a lot of features with one of the more competitive prices among light hiking shoes. Built to provide all-day comfort and full-foot protection, its upper construction of leather and mesh provides weather protection and breathability, with a bellows tongue designed to keep out debris. That breathability is further reinforced by a mesh lining, and antimicrobial agents fight off any odor. Grip comes from an outsole lined with 5-mm lugs, while air cushioning in the heel partners with a removable, contoured insole for flexible support and impact absorption. A traditional lace closure works nicely with a rear tug strap to make them easy to put on and off, and the rubberized toe rand fends off the unexpected bites of the terrain.
Best for Wide Feet: Altra Lone Peak 4 Running Shoe
Although Altra markets the Lone Peak 4 as a trail-running shoe, there’s a reason the brand has generated legions of loyalists among hikers on the Appalachian Trail. The shoes are incredibly light, weighing in at just more than 10 ounces per shoe. But the Lone Peak 4's many features merely start there. As with all Altra shoes, they’re zero-drop, meaning that the height at the heel and toe are the same, which affords proper foot position and reduces fatigue. The 25-mm stack height also offers enough cushion without overdoing it. That comfort is buoyed by a multi-directional outsole to shrug off sharp rocks and roots, with a reinforced front cap to avoid stubbing your toes. Those with wide feet will also appreciate the shoe’s foot-shaped toe box, one that’s much wider than most trail runners or light hikers. This lets your toes spread out naturally, which affords greater comfort and balance. The upper is made of waterproof/breathable eVent technology and comes with a four-point connection system that integrates with Altra’s gaiters for even more protection.
Best for Support: Oboz Arete Mid Hiking Shoes
If you have weak ankles or plan on hauling lots of weight into the backcountry, lightweight hiking shoes with a mid-rise construction affords additional support. And the Oboz Arete Mid does this without packing on extra pounds. Its streamlined construction includes a no-sew breathable upper that fends off most weather without layers of additional waterproof protection, which often doesn’t breathe as freely. The mid-level hikers run on Oboz’s A3 Chassis, a two-piece suspension system with independent TPU stabilizers for torsional flex and natural articulation, along with single-density EVA for cushioning and comfort. Meanwhile, the shank and forefoot plate mitigate over-flexing and protection from rugged terrain. Grip comes from Tempest, a burly outsole with multi-directional and perimeter lugs for traction and freedom of movement. As with all Oboz shoes, these also come with the brand’s proprietary removable insole, molded to match the shape of the Arete Mid for unparalleled fit, feel, and performance.
Best Quicklace System: Salomon Amphib Bold Water Shoes
A warm-weather sneaker ready for wet conditions, Salomon’s Amphib Bold Water Shoes are ideal for its on-and-off convenience. The shoes employ the brand’s Quicklace system, which offers one-pull tightening, with a heel that collapses so you can wear them like a slip-on. The welded upper boasts no stitches for a smooth, glove-like feel and high-end EVA foam that offers shock absorption. For trail protection, the shoe comes with a toe cap and a gusseted tongue that connects on both sides to center the tongue and prevent debris from entering. The outsole has also been designed to handle both wet and smooth surfaces with siped lungs and perforated grooves to improve traction in slick situations. The single-layer mesh also means it breathes well and dries quickly.
Best for Women: Danner Trail 2650 Hiking Shoes
The Danner Trail 2650 hiking shoe takes its inspiration from the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail and is ready to handle a variety of terrain, whether you’re day-hiking or striving to break the next thru-hiking record. The leather and textile uppers add durability without over-engineering, with a mesh lining that adds breathability and long-term comfort. Following Danner’s coveted trail runner design, it comes with a roomier fit in the toe box and a snug fit at the heel, with slightly more stability in the forefoot. A robust Vibram 460 outsole and toe cap delivers incredible grip on wet and dry surfaces and will fend off damage after seasons of abuse, reinforcing the brand's reputation for making some of the most durable shoes and boots available. An ultra-light EVA midsole partners with a three-layer removable orthotic footbed designed to increase air circulation and dissipate heat.
Best Waterpoof: Columbia Vitesse OutDry Hiking Shoes
Most hiking shoes in the market are geared to fend off the elements, but none does it quite as successfully as the Columbia Vitesse OutDry. Rather than using Gore-Tex, which has been shown to add some heft and less breathable internal atmospheres, Columbia uses its proprietary OutDry technology to block wetness without sacrificing weight or breathability. This one-piece membrane has integrated waterproof/breathable features into one layer, rather than the more two- or three-layer configuration. That also allows the uppers to be made of lightweight, seamless mesh, along with an ultra-light midsole that delivers high-energy return and impact absorption. Underfoot, Omni-Grip provides non-marking traction across all variety of terrain, from mud to slick wood to wet trails.
Best for Men: Vasque Breeze III Low GTX Hiking Boots
Ideal for fast-moving hikers on either one-day or a multi-day excursion, the Vasque Breeze III provides waterproof protection via a Gore-Tex membrane that lets your feet breathe without getting wet and the undeniable confidence of Vibram Megagrip underfoot, which provides traction in almost any condition. The Air Mesh upper, partnered with 1.8-mm waterproof nubuck leather, keeps things relatively light, though they do tip the scales compared to other low-top hikers at 982 grams. The toe cap is present without being overdone, while the all-terrain-compound midsole uses a TPU shank for durability, along with EVA cushioning pods to assure days-long comfort. If you typically hike in boots but yearn for something more streamlined without sacrificing grip, support, durability, or protection, the Breeze III is the perfect upgrade.
Best for Endurance Racing: The North Face Ultra Endurance XF
The new Ultra Endurance XF from The North Face was built to handle the most extreme of trail conditions for hikers who like to push their limits in both speed and distance. Weighing in at only 320 grams, they won’t slow you down, with an ultra-breathable dynamic air mesh upper and a no-sew TPU toe cap and midfoot overlays to lock down a secure fit. Gusseted tongues keep debris out, and dual-density 3 mm outsole lugs hit the sweet spot between traction and durability on the trail. A traditional shoe architecture drops the toe 9 mm from the 25-mm heel height, while an XtraFoam midsole system provides comfort and relief from hard-charging, rugged trails.
Best for Comfort: Hoka One One Tor Ultra Low WP JP
Unlike most hiking brands, Hoka One One maxed out the cushioning in their runners and hiking shoes. And the Tor Ultra Low WP JP is no exception, with max cushioning underfoot and a 4 mm heel-to-toe drop to make them plush. A blend of a running shoe and a lightweight hiker, it comes with a Vibram Megagrip outsole and a blended midsole of EVA and rubberized EVA for both traction and cushioning. The brand got its start trying new ways to make running (especially running downhill) less painful, which also inspired them to use a rocker profile found in these light hikers, which means that the outsole is curved to encourage forward momentum and smooth toe-off transfer. The full-grain leather and textile uppers partner with an eVent waterproof membrane to make them waterproof and breathable, with traditional lacing that runs to the tip to help dial the optimal fit.
Best Sandal: Keen Arroyo II Sandal
When Keen first introduced their toe cap into an active sandal, it changed the way hikers approached footwear considerations in hot, wet climates. And while there have been legions of imitators, Keen still makes some of the best, as proven by the Arroyo II. One glance and you know they’ll breathe far better than any closed hiking shoes, with open vents carved into the waterproof leather uppers. A one-hand quick-pull lacing system makes them easy to put on, with tug loops at both the heel and tongue. But if the uppers are all about breathability, the lowers are all about high-octane hiking, with 4 mm multi-directional lugs and a heel support structure that’s torsionally stable thanks to an integrated ESS shank. Dual-density compression-molded EVA in the midsole adds comfort, and the metatomical footbed provides solid arch support and cradles the natural contours of your feet. Better still, you can remove them to help dry things out after a few stream crossings. Just order a half-size up, as both customers and the brand acknowledge that they run a bit small.